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Hillary’s Macha Problem

NOTE: As we swing deeper into election season, I’ve agreed to do some semi-regular posting at the Huffington Post’s Off the Bus section, looking primarily at how social justice and related issues intersect with the Presidential race. (Blogfather and good friend, Marc Cooper, lured me into this.) So, if you’ve got tips or topics you think I oughta tackle, bring ’em on.


It has been clear for some time that, whenever she debates her democratic rivals,
Hillary Clinton is determined to position herself as the toughest guy in the room. But, now that—rightly or wrongly— she appears to believe she’s headed for a lock on the democratic nomination, her advisers admit that she’s begun to campaign beyond the primaries to the general election. This means that, instead of merely trying to out-macho Obama and Edwards, HRC is now focused on demonstrating that she’s a manlier man than Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney. This would all be fine and dandy if it were not for the fact that Hil’s way of proving she is ultra buff—politically speaking—has some very unfortunate downsides.

A prominent example is her vote late last month for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, a nasty, war-mongering little measure that urged the State Department to declare Iran’s 125,000-member Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. This Dick Cheney-dream of a move is the rough equivalent of, say, Russia declaring the U.S. Marines a terrorist group. In other words, it’s a stance that is provocative at the least and, at worst, a back door, tacit agreement that it’s okay for the President to order tactical strikes against Iran’s military training bases without Congressional approval. Obama and Edwards both came out against the resolution (although Barak wasn’t there for the vote). Yet, Hilary has declared that her YEA vote was simply to “put some teeth into all this talk about dealing with Iran.” Right, Hil, just like the Iraq war resolution.

More recently, there has been Hillary’s waffling on torture. In last week’s interview with the Washington Post, she gave a stupendously fuzzy answer when asked what she thought about torture in general, and the CIA’s special interrogation methods, specifically: “It is not clear yet exactly what this administration is or isn’t doing,” HRC said. “We’re getting all kinds of mixed messages. I don’t think we’ll know the truth until we have a new president. I think [until] you can get in there and actually bore into what’s been going on, you’re not going to know.”

When a full transcript of the interview was released, we saw that Hil also said the US should draw a “bright line” about the torture issue, a specifics-challenged stand that doesn’t really differentiate itself from that of George “We don’t torture.” Bush.

This past Monday, Hillary appeared on The" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> View where she was again questioned on the torture issue and had a brand new opportunity to say “No waterboarding,” no “rendering” people to countries that do practice torture. She didn’t take it.

In some ways, Hillary’s macha routine is understandable.

Certainly, any woman who wants to be taken seriously as a candidate for the presidency is going to have to prove to a jittery American public that, when it comes to protecting the country and its citizens, the girls can be every bit as tough as the boys. And, after watching decorated war vet, John Kerry, be unjustly smeared in the 2004 general election as an effete, chardonnay-sipping weakling, incapable of forceful leadership, Hil has clearly decided that some sort of preemptive pugnacity—all delivered with her trademark campaign-trail smile—is the way to go. Frankly, I suspect that if it was legal, she’d show up to debates wearing a nicely-cut skirt and blazer, and packing a 9mm side-arm.

Hillary’s badder-than-thou strategy is making itself felt on the domestic policy side of things too. For instance, in an effort to bolster her tough-on-crime creds—which she figures she’ll need if Rudy Giuliani gets the Republican nomination—Hillary co-sponsored a lousy piece of legislation called the Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2007. The bill, which passed out of the Senate late last month, and will soon come up for a vote in the House, capitalizes on national gang hysteria by adding another layer of penalties that will push more juveniles into the federal court system. (If you want to know more, I blogged about it here back in June.)

The Hardcore Hillary routine is all the more depressing because, if nearly eight years of George Bush should have taught us anything, it’s that tough-mindedness and bad-ass-talk are not at all equivalent, and mistaking one for another can lead a country down a mighty dark and dangerous road.

So, listen-up, Hillary, here’s the deal: Real leadership consists of more than muscle-flexing, and it isn’t focus-group-driven. It is never bad for bad’s sake. Truly strong leaders act with a sense of clarity, restraint, wisdom and commitment—and not because they think they ought to look tough.

(AP photo by Evan Vucci)


  • I don’t think Hillary would hesitate to use torture or nukes to promote HER agenda.

    She is one of thse female bosses no-one want to work for.

  • The opinions exrpressed above underscore why she is doing so well among working and single women.

  • There’s been a lot of press recently examining why Obama hasn’t gone after Hillary more vociforously. What I’ve heard very little speculation around is that he’s trying to keep his options open for veep. I wonder if anyone in the Obama camp thinks, should Hillary win the nomination, that she would even consider Obama for veep. There’s no way a white woman running for president is going to select as her running mate a black man. Not gonna happen. Which means that Obama needs to win now or he could be out of luck for the next 28 years.

  • Mavis and RLC—I share your perplexity at Obama’s lack of aggression. It ain’t working. And it ain’t gonna work. And, he’s not going to be her running mate, for all the reasons mentioned. Watching his white-gloved approach is maddening.

  • Hillary is making sure that O’Bama keeps on white gloves–like a performer in a minstrel show, and he better know his place. That woman is mad and will destroy anyone who gets in her way.

  • I agree with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Hillary Clinton is the devil, just look at her eyes. She is also atrocious, crazy, barbaric, brutal, cruel, disgusting, evil, horrific, inhumane, mad, savage, vicious, wicked, and vile.

    David Schippers, the man called in by Henry Hyde to be chief counsel of the impeachment of William Jefferson Blythe Clinton, has been very candid and succinct in his description of Hillary Clinton. When asked about her on FreeRepublic Radio, he described her as “evil incarnate.”

    Hillary Clinton is the reincarnation of Satan!!!!

  • Worse than that, she’s a Democrat.

    Hillary to be Probed

    In the book “Her Way,” former New York Times investigative reporter Jeff Gerth and Times investigative reporter Don Van Natta Jr. wrote that during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, “Hillary’s defense activities ranged from the inspirational to the microscopic to the down and dirty.

    “She received memos about the status of various press inquiries, she vetted senior campaign aides; and she listened to a secretly recorded audiotape of a phone conversation of Clinton critics plotting their next attack.”

    As Newsmax reported in June, “The tape contained discussions of another woman who might surface with allegations about an affair with Bill. Bill’s supporters monitored frequencies used by cell phones, and the tape was made during one of those monitoring sessions.”

    Mickey Kaus at Slate magazine noted: “Isn’t [secret phone monitoring] not so legal? … I’m no expert, but it looks like a potential minefield for Hillary.”

  • Celeste, your saying that Hillary supporting a resolution that declares Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp a terrorist org. “the rough equivalent of Putin declaring the U. S. Marines a terrorist group,” is pretty mind-numbingly extreme, even for you. Actually, the fact that you think Hillary is becoming too right wing is the biggest endorsement for her.

    One thing that is extreme and bizarre: the Bush Admin. naming Orr, a woman who doesn’t believe in abortion and questions many aspects of birth control, as Head of Family Planning. She sounds better suited to a Vatican or Falwell spokeswoman.

    AS for Obama: He’s more likely to nominate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp. for the next Nobel Peace Prize. Not because he’s “evil incarnate,” just naive and too afraid of alienating anyone he sees as “the other.” Politically correct pandering gone awry, more than polite white-gloving.

  • Ohhhh, Hillary isn’t getting her $1 million from the taxpayers to fund a Woodstock museum to help one of her biggest contributors, whose money went around the block to get to her, which isn’t mentioned in the CNN article.

    When Schumer and Clinton trumpeted the $1 million earmark for the museum back in June, she said in a statement that it would “continue to promote education, the arts, culture and tourism in the region.”

    And, the museum was “for the childrennnnnnnnn.”

  • This piece kicked up quite a bit of dust over at the Huffington Post, Celeste. Good job! Interesting to see how polarized the comments got. I’m not sure some readers read you very closely, however. I had to read the full post there to make sure it was the same one here. You certainly called out some of Hillary’s weakensses, but I didn’t think you’d slammed her. Still, some folks commenting really did get their knickers in a very tight twist. And, the fun is just beginning 😉

  • Oh my God!

    The U.S. election process is heating up, and the mud is spreading! Hillary Rodham Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate for U.S. President, is being sued in the state of California in what may be the largest election fraud in U.S. history. All news of this case has been effectively censored in the U.S. mainstream media.

    Hillary may have violated the law by not reporting large contributions to her successful 2000 campaign for the New York Senate. Mr. Peter F. Paul claims that his contributions were omitted from the public reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, and Hillary denies all knowledge of these contributions. See the latest ruling in Paul vs. Clinton.

    Hillary even denies knowing Mr. Paul, who made the contributions to her 2000 Senate campaign. A video produced by the Equal Justice Foundation of America has been viewed more than 650,000 times. A case such as this would normally end any politician’s career in the United States.

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